My husband has always traveled for his profession, but that time away hit differently once we had kids at home. When we were newlyweds, I would feel lonely and bored while he traveled. Now with kids, I feel anything but bored.
Whether your partner travels for work, pleasure, or any other occasion, here are some tips to help you get through.
1. Early bedtime
Even if you put your kids to bed early and let them read until they fall asleep, carve out some kid-free time for yourself. You must have a break so you can recharge before the next day. This is imperative.
2. Easy meals
Frozen pizzas have saved our evenings more than once. If your budget or diet won’t allow for takeout, try these simple meals at home: taco night, build-your-own baked potato, soup and sammies, or spaghetti, which never fails.
Do not stay home the entire time your partner is away. Go out to the park, a friend’s house, Target, or a nature walk. Even the most introverted person needs someone to laugh with, vent to, or just talk to. This time connecting with others will fill your tank more than you realize.
4. Movie night
Pop the popcorn, get everyone in PJs, curl up with blankets. If you’re feeling extra into it, blow up an air mattress in the living room for everyone to cozy up on. Your kids will think you are the most fun, but really, you are a tired parent who needs a win. Take the win.
5. Buy your kids something new
There is nothing like the novelty of a new toy, coloring book, playdough, or craft to keep your kids occupied. The dollar store and Target’s dollar spot are great places to grab something new for your kids without breaking the bank. Your little ones are likely missing your partner too, so a little gift serves to help them feel loved.
6. When all else fails, get outside or give them a bath
I recently read this advice online and it has proved so true with my kids time and time again. Whining? Bored with their toys? Asking for ANOTHER snack? Go play outside. Let the fresh air work its magic. Bad weather? Get in the bath. Give them bubbles, a popsicle, or a special bath toy to stretch this playtime for as long as it will last.
7. Go easy on yourself (and your kids)
You already know this is a hard time for you, but remember it’s hard for your kids too. Their family structure is temporarily altered, which can easily result in acting out or meltdowns. Consider letting more minor grievances slide, and opt for extra hugs. You are allowed to have a meltdown or two as well. Remember that this is temporary — and do what you need to do to survive. Take good care of yourself.
8. Plan for some “you time”
Let your partner know in advance that you would like to leave the house to enjoy some time for yourself when they return. Planning your time away will give you something to look forward to while your partner is gone. Go to the spa or the bookstore, get outside, have dinner with a friend, or go to a movie. Exhale. You did it.
I sometimes compare hard things in parenting to going to the gym. When you first start working out, it hurts and it’s hard and long and not entirely fun. But after a while, it gets a little easier. Your muscles build strength and memory. You no longer think of exercising as a chore, it’s just something you do to maintain your health, so you do it.
Similarly, I thought I would cave in on myself the first time my husband left town on business. I was home with our 2-year-old and 3-week-old. I called him sobbing. It felt impossible to care for them both on my own.
But, I did it.
Now, three years later, it’s still not my favorite when my husband tells me he has to travel for work, but my coping skills kick in. I know we will survive while he is gone. And so will you!